Un Pacte de stabilité extérieure pour l’Europe

BERLIN – La crise économique actuelle a mis au jour deux grandes faiblesses de l’Union monétaire européenne, inhérentes à sa conception. La première a trait à la viabilité à long terme des finances publiques d’une série d’Etats membres de la zone euro. La seconde, à la mauvaise coordination de la politique macroéconomique, source de rivalités internationales entre ces membres et danger pour l’existence même de l’euro.

Des pays, dont les finances publiques semblaient encore fondamentalement saines l’an dernier, sont en butte à de sérieuses difficultés budgétaires. L’Irlande s’attend à ce que sa dette augmente de presque 80% de son PIB d’ici 2010, alors qu’il y a un an à peine, la Commission européenne prévoyait pour ce pays une augmentation de moins de 30%. Et l’Espagne est susceptible, par rapport à 2007, de multiplier son ratio dette/PIB par deux d’ici 2010, jusqu’à dépasser 60%, alors que ce pays était censé voir décroître son coefficient d’endettement.

Les mécanismes de surveillance fiscale de l’Union européenne n’ont pas permis de prévoir cette évolution, parce qu’ils n’intègrent pas une variable essentielle: celle de la dynamique de l’endettement du secteur privé. Avec ce que coûte une crise bancaire sur le plan économique, les gouvernements ont tendance, quand survient une crise, à absorber les dettes du secteur financier, comme l’ont fait récemment le Royaume-Uni et l’Irlande, et, au cours des crises financières des années quatre-dix, l’Amérique latine et l’Asie. Il en va probablement de même quand les secteurs-clés du privé sont au bord de la faillite. Un pays dont les finances publiques sont saines peut ainsi tomber dans la débâcle du jour au lendemain.

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